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Blockchain & The Law Roundup – 26 October 2017:

Who needs to join Ethereum when you can, instead, just create your own blockchain? K&L Gates is working with Chainvine, a technology company based in the United Kingdom and Sweden, to provide their lawyers with blockchain modules so they can learn the technology. Read more about K&L Gates and their plans below.

Although we’ve already mentioned Canadian firm Gowlings who are also dipping their toes into blockchain, we thought it worth reminding you, on the back of K&L Gates’ plans.

Also, a fascinating story via The Business Insider that talks about law firms preparing Bitcoin wallets to pay off hackers who threaten to expose their client databases a la Panama Papers.

Last but not least, please do read the article published by Above the Law on the current ICO fad. It is a bit of an eye opener.



Title: K&L Gates Gets ‘Hands-On’ With Blockchain Development Hoping to get out in front of a major new technology, the firm is preparing to create its own private blockchain.

Author: Legal Intelligencer

Date: 24 October 2017


Extract: K&L Gates is making a bet on blockchain, a technology that could take on a major role in contracts and other legal applications. The Pittsburgh-based global law firm has put a plan in place to develop blockchain capabilities in-house, eventually allowing the firm to launch its own private blockchain.While it has a number of applications, blockchain became widely known through the spread of the virtual currency Bitcoin, which relies on the still-evolving technology. K&L Gates plans to start with smart contracts, which use encrypted information on blockchain to implement the terms of a contract automatically.To begin, K&L Gates is working with Chainvine, a technology company based in the United Kingdom and Sweden, to provide its lawyers with blockchain modules so they can learn the technology. That will allow K&L Gates lawyers to become familiar with using blockchain in a “sandbox” environment, said partner Judith Rinearson, who co-chair’s the firm’s fintech practice.

From there, they will work with clients and Chainvine to create “use cases“—a set of steps for each type of action—and eventually establish a private blockchain, she said. It will likely take about a year to reach that point, Rinearson said, with the sandbox stage lasting three to six months.


Title:  Gowling WLG supports blockchain with crypto legal team

Author: Investment

Date: 24 October 2017


Extract:  Gowling WLG has launched a team that specializes in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, the Toronto-based law firm has announced. The firm’s new blockchain and smart contracts group — which includes lawyers with expertise in several areas, including capital markets, intellectual property, litigation, and tax — focuses on blockchain-related applications, such as initial coin offerings, smart contracts, cryptocurrency exchanges, digital wallets, and the associated legal and regulatory issues in these emerging areas. “More and more, our clients are recognizing the unprecedented opportunities for innovation and growth offered by blockchain technology. However, as the regulatory space surrounding blockchain continues to mature, legal obstacles can make it difficult to fully embrace the benefits of the technology,” says Usman Sheikh, partner and head of the new blockchain unit in Canada, in a statement.


Title: As Bankers Bash Bitcoin, Their Lawyers Sing a Different Tune Jamie Dimon may think buying bitcoin is stupid, but banks still want lawyers with bitcoin smarts.


Date: 25 October 2017


Extract:  But even as top guns at big banks and investment firms are bad-mouthing bitcoin, they expect their outside law firms to be engaged in the cryptocurrency world—and especially the underlying blockchain technology that is being billed as the next big fintech innovation. Gregory Lisa, a partner focused on financial services regulation at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., said financial companies that publicly disparage bitcoin still prize the digital currency expertise. “No one wants an attorney or firm who is not well-versed in this space,” Lisa said. “Many of the financial institutions are acutely interested in it,” he said, noting they expect change to come to their industry as it always has. “None of these institutions have existed in a static environment,” he said.


Title:   Law firms are preemptively opening Bitcoin wallets to pay ransoms

Author: Business

Date: 25 October 2017



LONDON – Law firms are preemptively opening Bitcoin wallets to pay ransoms in case their data is hacked, according to a cyber-security expert.

Opening a Bitcoin wallet is just one contingency plan firms can make to prepare for cyber breaches in which client data is stolen, according to John Sweeney, president of IT and cyber security advisors LogicForce. This can be a useful “last resort” when the data is not backed up and cannot be restored unless a ransom is paid.

“The firms doing this are smarter,” said Sweeney, and are looking to take “conscientious” proactive, rather than reactive, steps. Sweeney stressed he did not generally advocate paying ransoms, but said it “makes sense” for firms to have a Bitcoin wallet to hand. “I certainly don’t see it as a bad move,” he said.


Title:  In The World Of Cryptocurrencies, The ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’ Guy Is A Paragon Of Probity And ReasonYou don’t have to be an admitted securities fraudster of international repute to see how the ICO space might be tempting to crooks.

Author: Above the Law

Date: 23 October 2017


Extract:  In the case of Jordan Belfort, the stock-promoter whose drug-fueled debauchery and boiler-room scammery inspired Martin Scorcese’s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, these days it’s the latter. But there’s still good reason to take heed of Belfort’s recent comments to the Financial Times regarding what might be the hottest financial story of the year: initial coin offerings:

“Promoters [of ICOs] are perpetuating a massive scam of the highest order on everyone,” he said. “Probably 85 percent of people out there don’t have bad intentions, but the problem is, if five or 10 per cent are trying to scam you, it’s a fucking disaster.”


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